SSU Introduces Gullah/Geechee History and Culture Course

SSU’s Gullah/Geechee History and Culture Class
SSU’s Gullah/Geechee History and Culture Class

The Gullah/Geechee History and Culture course at Savannah State University will offer students a unique opportunity to engage one of America’s most distinctive sub-cultures in not only a traditional classroom setting, but also experientially.

SSU, Armstrong and SCAD students will visit Sapelo Island and learn about the Gullah from the African American residents of Hog Hummock Community, whose ancestors have lived on the island for more than two full centuries.

The course will allow students to delve into Gullah/Geechee culture and spend substantial time on Sapelo and St. Helena Island in South Carolina.

Island residents will tell tales of their long and storied past, show students how to weave baskets out of local sweet grass and to make West African-style casting nets for fishing in the local waters.

The course will explore local knowledge systems created and held by the Gullah and Geechee since the 16th century. Further, the class will have a Gullah/Geechee language component.

An important part of understanding island culture and history is having some foundation in exploring the linguistically West African and Caribbean roots of communities such as St. Helena, Hog Hummock and Riceboro.

Also, students will be able to do community service projects on Sapelo or any of the areas the class visits. The course designed the course to include:

Authentic Gullah/Geechee Cuisine Segment: Students will help prepare and then be invited to partake in an authentic Gullah/Geechee meal. Most of the ingredients are locally derived and will include island fish, crab and shrimp.

The Sweet Grass Basket Weaving Segment: The students and instructors will actually go out into a marsh and cut the sweetgrass. Then, we will listen to and watch one of the community partners make a basket. After that, the class try!

West African Net Making and Casting: The class will make a casting net and then use it to capture crab, shrimp and fish. Students will be taught to employ a West African method of making and throwing nets that dates back several centuries.

Gullah Language Segment (Gullah/Geechee 101): Community partners will take turns teaching students how to properly speak Gullah and Geechee.

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